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17 September 2012

“Man of the match“, “keep calm and carry on“, and other phrases you might get sued for using

Odd trademarks.

By New Statesman

OFS Group is selling the rights to the phrase “Man of the Match”. The trademark could fetch millions, as the owner will be able to sue companies who are using the phrase without their consent. It seems odd that such a well known phrase can be bought and sold, but it’s not an isolated case. Here are some other surprising trademarks:

“Keep Calm and Carry On”

The wartime slogan wasn’t trademarked until 2007, where it was registered by Surrey businessman Mark Coop in a landmark case of entrepeneurial spirit overcoming Blitz spirit. On his first attempt, in Britain, he was laughed out of the courtroom, but he managed to get it overruled by the European Union. He immediately started serving notices on other companies to get their versions of the poster withdrawn.

“Let’s Get Ready to Rumble”

This “very ’80s” phrase was taken by Michael Buffer, the boxing and wrestling announcer. He licenced it to New York City taxi cabs in the late 1990s, where it was used, in his own voice, as a reminder for passengers to buckle their seatbets: “Let’s get ready to rumble…. for SAFETY!” He also adapted it for a Kraft cheese commercial (“Lets get ready to crumble!”), although he has yet to take ownership of the adaptations fumble, bumble and stumble. By 2009 the phrase made him over £246m.

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“That’s hot”

Paris Hilton has had rights to the phrase  since 2007 – a bumper year for the franchising of ubiquitous phrases. She put the flexible phrase to use promoting a canned version of a sparkling wine called Rich Prosecco.